Education & Safety


Vision of excellence for recreational aviators –

The Recreational Aviation Foundation offers recommendations to advance flight safety, airmanship, professionalism, consideration and courtesy toward the people and wildlife who share the recreational environment. Each of us is an ambassador to the non-flying public, and to the landowners or managers responsible for the airstrips we enjoy. We want to be the friendliest and most helpful recreational users working with land owners and managers.

Significant negotiation and work go into protecting backcountry airstrips and trust is earned through fulfilling our commitments to the land managers and owners. Honoring these agreements can go a long way towards these efforts, and even opening new airstrips. A few rogue pilots can destroy this trust and set our backcountry efforts backwards for years.

This Code of Conduct presents a vision of excellence for recreational aviators. Its principles complement and underscore legal requirements and agreements for land use.


  • Make safety your highest priority, acting with responsibility and courtesy.
  • Develop the skills necessary for safe backcountry aviation. Use instructors and knowledgeable pilots to seek excellence in airmanship through training and practice.
  • Establish and adhere to personal minimums based on objective evaluation of ability.
  • Research and practice prudent operating practices for the area and airfield you wish to explore. i.e, reporting points and altitudes.
  • Anticipate, recognize, share with passengers, and manage risks using sound principles of risk management and aeronautical decision making.
  • Maintain a comprehensive awareness of and consideration for all in the flying environment, avoiding all operations that may alarm, disturb, or endanger passengers, people or wildlife on the surface.


  • Use an aircraft that is capable and maintained for the intended mission.
  • Be competent in the use of appropriate technologies for navigation, communication, and emergency rescue.
  • Carry redundant transceivers and navigational equipment.
  • Equip with proper water, food, clothing, shelter, first aid and tools. Prepare for an extended time on the ground if necessary.
  • Secure your aircraft.


  • Use “Pack it in / Pack it out” and “Leave No Trace” practices.
  • Keep your aircraft/seaplane clean of weed traces and seed to prevent the spread of invasive vegetation.
  • Recognize and minimize the environmental impact of aircraft operations.
  • Go beyond applicable agreements, laws and regulations in being considerate stewards of the environment and others who may be sharing it.
  • Act with courtesy to other recreators. Maintain reasonable distance and altitude and reduce your noise signature to a safe minimum.
  • Know wildlife refuge boundaries and seasonal areas of wildlife congregation to avoid low level overflights.
  • Minimize discharge of fuel and oil during refueling, preflight preparations, servicing and flight operations.
  • Avoid very early morning departures unless safety of flight requires a deviation.
  • Do not use sensitive backcountry airstrips for training. Stay long enough to enjoy their special recreational benefits.

ASI Safety Briefing Guide

The RAF partnered with AOPA’s Air Safety Institute - GA’s safety experts - in designing a Safety Survey for RAF members and also evaluating the survey results. After reviewing the survey results and also drawing from their own references, ASI produced a ‘Safety Briefing Guide’ that you can keep in and use from your own cockpit.

Building Your Library

The RAF Safety and Education Committee promotes safe flying through continuing education and training. While we do not endorse specific sources of information or training, we recommend that pilots continually educate themselves. To help pilots build a library of knowledge, we provide the following resources as a starting point. If you have suggestions to add to this library, please email Tom Haefeli at


Mountain Technique

Flying the Mountains by Fletcher Fairchild Anderson

Rim Flying Canyonlands with Jim Hurst by Pearl Baker

Mountain Flying Bible Revised by Sparky Imeson

Aircraft Technique

Guide to Bush Flying by F.E. Potts

Taildragger Tactics by Sparky Imeson

Aviation Weather

Mountain Weather: Backcountry Forecasting for Hikers, Campers,
Climbers, Skiers and Snowboarders
 by Jeff Renner

Flying Colorado Mountain Weather by Margaret W. Lamb

Region Specific

Fly Idaho! by Galen Hanselman

​Fly Utah! by Galen Hanselman

​Fly the Big Sky! by Galen Hanselman

Air Baja! by Galen Hanselman


Survive: Beyond the Forced Landing article by AOPA Air Safety Institute

Survive: Beyond the Forced Landing video by AOPA Air Safety Institute




Adventure Pilot


Aviation Weather Center


Backcountry Aviation

Backcountry Pilot

F.E. Potts Guide to Bush Flying

Fly Colorado


Google Earth


Idaho Aviation Association

Recreational Aviation Foundation


Weather Underground


Driven by our State Liaisons’ requests for more information about private airfields, the RAF has compiled Guide for the Private Airfield Owner. The Guide states that private airfields are invaluable, especially as pressure increases on public lands to restrict aviation access to many of our nation’s special places. The RAF recognizes private airfields are a resource to tap for increasing aviation access to recreation.

“Preserving private use airfields is a primary mission for us here in the East,” said John Nadeau, former RAF Massachusetts Liaison. He owns Old Acton Airfield in Maine (02ME), and took the lead in drafting the document, which has gained the endorsement of AOPA.

The Guide includes discussion of the FAA charting process; and legal, liability and legacy concerns.

The RAF has long been the “go-to” group for answers regarding recreational aviation on public lands, found in the RAF Land Manager’s Guide and Advocate’s Guide. “We expect that we may now be seen as the ‘go-to’ organization regarding private airfield support,” Nadeau said, adding, “It will be RAF folks who show up at an airfield with rakes, shovels and pulaskis when word goes out that an airfield owner needs physical help.”


Members may request printed copies using



Joshua Hart
Joshua Hart



Joshua Hart
Joshua Hart